Pixar have a pretty great average when it comes to films. They came out swinging in 1995 with Toy Story, a film that defined many people’s (including my) childhoods. From then on they’ve rarely had a flop, the closest to less-than-stellar they’ve been is with the Cars franchise, and even that stands above most animated films.
So will their new Day of the Dead inspired film carry on their stellar reputation?
A young musician, living in a family who have long since banned all music, discovers that he is the descendant of the most famous singer in the country, this leads to him running away from his family and journeying to the Land of the Dead to seek out his great-great grandfather.
If nothing else, Disney/Pixar know how to animate. Every frame of this film is like a work of art, bursting with life and colour, that’s before we get around to addressing the film itself.
As a Pixar film, it hits all the write notes, easy to follow plot (which doesn’t always mean a weak plot), strong characters, emotional moments and memorable songs.
Most Pixar films are known for having easy-to-follow plots, being primarily aimed at children, this is to be expected, usually however it builds in extra twists and turns to keep the adults entertained too, Coco is just the same, it’s a tale of forbidden dreams, something covered in movies frequently, it lives and dies on the strength of reasoning behind the forbidden nature of the dream. At times it’s hard to sympathise with the lengths Miguel’s family go to to forbid music, which leaves all your sympathy to lie with Miguel, I can’t imagine this was their intention as the family is not framed as a villains, merely misguided.
Apart from that the film is stellar, beautifully animated and expertly voiced, I can’t let a few nit-picks get in the way of how good the movie actually is. Pixar films have a knack of creating characters you make a connection with, this film is no exception, they even manage to make the ‘dead’ characters feel like living characters in a bigger world, which is some achievement.
The film is voiced by an array of Latino talent (predominantly Mexican-American) who give this world it’s living feel, especially impressive are Anthony Gonzalez and Gael Garcia Bernal who voice Miguel and Hector respectively, they are the emotional heart of the film, the subplot of Hector being forgotten is especially heart-wrenching especially when linked with the living world counterpart of his daughter, the aged Coco, who the film gets it’s name from.
In conclusion, Disney/Pixar have served up another animated classic that will be looked upon fondly for years to come, keeping intact it’s stellar record, it succeeds in building a world teeming with life, despite the fact it’s inhabited by the dead.